Watch the Words

pointomegaSo I still haven’t read all of DeLillo’s works but I feel like it’s appropriate to say that in his newer novels he gets more inclined to write with certain ambiguity, about the metaphysical sphere of nature and aesthetics. It’s not like his earlier writings don’t share any of such characteristics, though still, reading White Noise or Underworld is different than reading Zero K or Point Omega, and the latter is the one which I’ve just read.

The title straightforwardly guides us to the so-called Omega Point, a concept developed by a Jesuit priest and an academic, Pierre de Chardin. It roughly refers to the unification of everything in the universe to a single, spiritual entity, a certain collective consciousness (entropy, huh?) In the novel, both Elster, an ex-war adviser who spends his retirement on a desert and Finley, a filmmaker intending to document his experience are concerned in different ways with the issue of passing time and the matter of consciousness. The plot starts and ends with 24 Hour Psycho, an art-piece showing Hitchcock’s movie slowed down to the period of twenty-four hours. As we read:

The film’s merciless pacing had no meaning without a corresponding watchfulness, the individual whose absolute alertness did not betray what was demanded. He stood and looked. In the time it took for Anthony Perkins to turn his head, there seemed to flow an array of ideas involving science and philosophy and nameless other things, or maybe he was seeing too much. But it was impossible to see to much. The less there was to see, the harder he looked, the more he saw. This was the point. To see what’s here, finally to look and to know you’re looking, to feel time passing, to be alive to what is happening in the smallest registers of motion.

This one nails it. To a great extent, Finley is concerned with alertness, with being conscious about your surroundings, the very subject of your interest, and looking at things as they are. This is actually the exact reason why the “post-Underworld” DeLillo really speaks to me. His later works are completely immersed in those highly cogitative subjects, focusing strongly on language, both in a textual and kind of meta-textual sense. I think it can be difficult for less experienced readers to get through it, however it’s fantastic how big is the extent to which we can interpret such prose and also how satisfying can be reading it if we look past the ambiguities and admire its aesthetic quality.

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